Press Release

U.S. Rep. Castor: Historic Reform Package "For The People Act" Passes, Will Return Power Back to the American People

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Washington, March 8, 2019 | comments
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) championed the historic reform package, H.R. 1, the “For The People Act” today. The bill passed overwhelmingly 234-193 and is focused on reforms that U.S. Rep. Castor and House Democrats have been working on for years – ensuring fair elections by fighting voter suppression and reaffirming commitment to the Voting Rights Act, standing against big money’s influence in politics and cleaning up the culture of corruption – all to return power back to the American people. Importantly, the bill included the Castor amendment to bury the “Zombie Campaign” abuses which allowed former Members and special interests to influence elections long after the Member left office.
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U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) championed the historic reform package, H.R. 1, the “For The People Act” today.  The bill passed overwhelmingly 234-193 and is focused on reforms that U.S. Rep. Castor and House Democrats have been working on for years – ensuring fair elections by fighting voter suppression and reaffirming commitment to the Voting Rights Act, standing against big money’s influence in politics and cleaning up the culture of corruption – all to return power back to the American people.  Importantly, the bill included the Castor amendment to bury the “Zombie Campaign” abuses which allowed former Members and special interests to influence elections long after the Member left office.

“The bold and transformative ‘For The People Act’ was introduced to put power back in the hands of the people and restore their faith that the federal government works for them, not the special interests,” U.S. Rep. Castor said.  “By focusing on ensuring fair elections, reaffirming our commitment to restoring the Voting Rights Act, fighting voter suppression, ending the dominance of big money in our political system and cleaning up the culture of corruption in Washington, the ‘For The People Act’ will strengthen our democracy and keep safe the principles of our great nation.

“My neighbors have been telling me for years – loud and clear – that they want an end to the culture of corruption in Washington,” said U.S. Rep. Castor.  “The new Democratic majority and the ‘For The People Act’ accomplish this by fortifying ethics laws and increasing accountability from public officials, including prohibiting Members of Congress from serving on for-profit, corporate boards; slowing the revolving door between public service and special interests; stopping Members of Congress from using taxpayer dollars to settle harassment lawsuits; and requiring all Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates to publicly disclose their tax returns.  The legislation also includes my effort to end ‘Zombie Campaigns’, a practice where ex-lawmakers hoard and spend campaign donations for decades after their campaigns have ended.  I am glad that the Democratic majority is tackling this form of corruption and others we have seen grow unchecked for several years under Republican control of Congress.

“The ‘For The People Act’ also takes strides to end the dominance of big money in our political system by requiring transparent disclosure of big-money contributors and special interests; pushing back on Citizens United; and strengthening oversight of campaign finance.  The legislation reaffirms Democrats’ commitment to ensuring fair elections, fighting voter suppression and restoring the Voting Rights Act.  It improves access to the ballot box by combatting institutional barriers to voting, creates nationwide automatic voter registration, ensures that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full rights restored, expands early voting and absentee voting, and modernizes the U.S. voting system.  The ‘For The People Act’ also protects our election systems from attack by enhancing federal support for voting system security, increasing oversight over vendors and developing a national strategy to protect our democratic institutions,” U.S. Rep. Castor continued.

Provisions of the “For The People Act” include:

  • Reaffirming commitment to restoring the Voting Rights Act – declares that Congress should restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act by updating the formula for determining which jurisdictions are subject to federal preclearance.
  • Restoring democracy – restores voting rights to individuals with felony convictions after they have completed their prison sentences and requires states and the federal government to notify these individuals of their re-enfranchisement.
  • Ending partisan gerrymandering – requires states to adopt independent redistricting commissions for the purposes of drawing Congressional districts instead of allowing politicians to pick their voters.
  • Unmasking dark money – requires super PACs, 501(c)4 groups and other organizations spending money in elections to disclose donors who contribute more than $10,000 and forbids organizations to transfer money to keep the identity of the contributor secret.
  • Supporting the end to Citizens United – affirms that the Constitution should be amended to clarify Congress and the States have the authority to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures, nullifying the Citizens United decision.
  • Expanding lobbying disclosure requirements – requires those who provide counseling in support of lobbying contracts to register as under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.
  • Avoiding Presidential conflicts of interest – requires the President and Vice President to file a new financial disclosure statement within 30 days of being sworn into office and prohibits both the President and Vice President from contracting with the U.S. government.
  • Disclosing White House Ethics Waivers – requires all ethics waivers granted to those in the Executive Branch be disclosed to the Office of Government Ethics and the public.
  • Releasing the Tax Returns of the President – requires sitting Presidents and Vice Presidents, as well as candidates for President and Vice President, to make their tax returns public.

The “For the People Act” has broad support from civil rights, conservation, consumer, faith, justice and labor organizations across the country including: Brennan Center for Justice, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, MoveOn, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, National Association of Social Workers, Truman National Security Project, the Union of Concerned Scientists and many others.

“A strong democracy is not a partisan issue,” U.S. Rep. Castor concluded.  “The ‘For The People Act’ is a bold, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore the faith and function of American democracy – and I hope my colleagues in the Senate follow the House in embracing these historic reforms.”

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